Most of us probably know by now that country music superstar George Jones has died at age 81. You can find any number of long and detail-rich articles about him (here’s a good one), but I thought we’d take a little different approach here on the GMC, by linking him to one of our regular features — Anatomy Of A Song.
In a long, long career that had countless best-sellers and award winners, Jones was probably best known — at least in the latter part of his life — for a song that he didn’t much like at first. It was in 1980 that producers arranged for him to record a new song by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman. It was called “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and as the title suggests it was a real tear-jerker.
The famously troubled and volatile performer didn’t like the song. His biographer said that “he thought it was too long, too sad, too depressing and that nobody would ever play it…(and) he hated the melody and wouldn’t learn it.” Some in the studio that day said he even tried singing it with a different melody, but eventually he did it the right way. He later admitted that the song revived his flagging career as it became his first Number-One hit in six years — a Grammy winner that also swept the country music awards. In subsequent years, it has been at the top of many polls for best country music song of all time.